NUM lashes out at stoning 'hooligans'

2012-10-19 18:18
Zwelinzima Vavi (Picture: Beeld)

Zwelinzima Vavi (Picture: Beeld)

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Johannesburg - NUM officials and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi were pelted with stones by some protesters at AngloGold Ashanti's mine near Orkney on Friday, a union official said.

"These hooligans threw stones at us," National Union of Mineworkers regional co-ordinator Madoda Sambatha said.

Sambatha said earlier on Friday their entourage had travelled to two other mines. At Kopanong workers told them they were going back to work on Monday and at the other, Vaal reefs number eight, they said they would not. Both meetings were peaceful.

"We [then] went to Vaal reefs Moab Khotsong and were told that before we arrived, this woman from the Socialist Democratic Movement had already addressed those workers, and said they must not listen to the general secretary of Cosatu."

However, they went ahead and spoke to them. They left their cars and walked in on foot. As they approached they saw two groups - a NUM group waiting for Vavi, and a second group "who are the permanent disrupters", said Sambatha.

"We were on foot. As we were advancing, these hooligans threw stones at us. We retreated."

They drove back to the union's regional offices.

"We are okay. The car was not damaged," he said.

Shortly before that, Liv Shange, a leader of the Socialist Democratic Movement, which had been lobbying for striking miners, sent out a BBM to her media contacts saying she had been taken in by police and that workers were being intimidated.

She later told Sapa by cellphone that police and mine security took her and some of her colleagues into an office on the mine and questioned them. She was told charges against her could include high treason and that she could face possible deportation.

Shange is from Sweden and married to a South African.

"I was the first to be interrogated and let go," she said.

She said she was told she was out to destabilise the situation and that there were limits to freedom of expression.

She was not hurt, and when she was speaking to Sapa she said she was free.


AngloGold Ashanti spokesperson Alan Fine said Shange had entered the mine premises without going through access control. She was then permitted to go to hostels and make speeches.

"After she had finished she was asked if she would accompany mine security to a temporary police office on the mine," he said.

Once in there, AngloGold Ashanti's security withdrew, according to their procedure.

North West police spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said because she had been addressing people and "instigating workers not to go back" at different shafts, police needed to understand who she was and her reasons for doing so.

"She must apply for meetings in future if she wants to address mine workers."

Vavi did not need to do so, because he would have had an arrangement with the mine, and was already known among NUM members there.

"He is Cosatu. He has got everything to do with the workers. The instigating element of what she is saying is what we as police are interested in. We are a peace-keeping force."

For the same reason expelled ANCYL leader Julius Malema was removed from the platinum belt a few weeks ago when he had hoped to address workers, Ngubane said.

He said they had been told one car had been stoned, although they did not know whose it was yet.

Meanwhile, after a lengthy strike, Gold Fields reported normal attendance at its Beatrix one, two, three, and four shafts, as well as KDC West. There were signs that workers would start returning at KDC East.

Workers were still on strike though at Harmony's Kusasalethu mine.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said this week's developments were "encouraging". He hoped things would start improving soon in the platinum sector.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  num  |  mahikeng  |  labour  |  mining  |  mining unrest

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